Republic of Ireland: Irish Premier Micheál Martin says no data center moratoriums ahead

Jul 26, 2022 | Posted by MadalineDunn

According to Taoiseach Micheál Martin, despite EirGrid warning that data centers are an energy drain and could also prevent the country from reaching its sustainability goals, there will be no data center moratoriums ahead. This news comes following the latest report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which outlined that Ireland's emissions have increased by nearly 5% on last year, 1.1% above pre-pandemic rates. Moreover, according to the national grid provider, by 2030, data centers will account for 33% of all energy consumption, and yet Martin, in a State visit to Japan and Singapore, the latter of which recently lifted its data center moratorium, warned that tech companies building facilities should not become "bogeymen" and that "in a digitalised world, data centres are now part of the package."

Martin recently announced that the government policy would be to permit the continuance of data center construction, with the conditions on energy generation imposed on companies building them. However, People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith, argues that there are eight large facilities that fall outside government rules due to be connected to the national grid over the next three years. Already, the figures show that the country is on path to breaching its 2025 carbon budget limits, and is unlikely to reach its binding commitment to cut emissions by 51% by 2030.

Speaking about his stance on the development of facilities and their economic benefits, Martin said: "We can't say no to all data centres because that potentially would be saying no to a lot of inward investment on the technology front – both on the digital and on the bigger companies."

Martin stressed that data centers are part and parcel of "larger foreign investment deals" and that "you can't say you want all of our investment, but by the way, we don't want you doing anything with a data center." Adding that, Ireland would have to "weigh that up."

Contrastingly, senior EPA officials have called Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions projections as "very bad," and in June, the projected that Ireland is on course to miss its carbon budgets due to "a significant gap" between them and projected emissions.